Over 45 years since leaving Pocklington School, on the May Bank holiday weekend of 2023, several OPs came together in different ways to raise vital funds for the charity Christian Blind Mission (CBM) enabling disadvantaged children in Africa to see again.
Under Mark Greenwood’s (70-77) leadership, Steven Kyffin (70-77), Helen Finch (née Greenwood, 79-81), Keith Heppell (70-77) and others from the wider Pocklington School community undertook or supported a cycling challenge travelling from Portsmouth harbour, through the centre of London and on to Hunstanton harbour in a single ride; a journey of over 200 miles!
The ride proved to be an incredible day for those involved and raised almost £5,000 for the charity – over double the original target of £2,400 and enough money for CBM to carry out 200 cataract operations in remote rural communities where having sight restored is a life-changing moment.
Mark has benefitted from recent eye surgery to remove a cataract from his own eye and saw the huge benefit in CBM’s cause as well as being inspired to take up the challenge by his daughter who works for the charity.
Mark gave the following account of the challenge:
“We set off from the sea at Portsmouth just before dawn. The four 200-milers, including Steven Kyffin and myself were joined at various stages by another seven riders, including several family members, friends and colleagues, who were all doing shorter stages and were brilliant at keeping us spinning along and our spirits up.
The first section took us through the South Downs National Park and up through Surrey towards London. OP Helen Finch and family members of the riders set up regular food stations to refuel the cyclists with tea, coffee, and cake, and we were feeling great. When we hit the capital, the stop-start traffic was an entirely different matter, but the team survived even with the added challenges of traffic jams, lost routes, and lost cyclists!
Once we had shaken free of London’s mid-day congestion, we zoomed along lovely lanes to Cambridge where we stopped for food and a photocall with the local press in CBM’s hometown. Thanks here to OP Keith Heppell who helped to tell the story in the Cambridgeshire press with his excellent photos and infectious enthusiasm for his old classmates’ adventures.
By now mid-afternoon, the Fens went by in a blur of flat roads, fields, and farms and we breezed into Ely, where the arrival of new riders added fresh legs to the peloton. They led us up to Kings Lynn as darkness fell, then north via Sandringham.
After thirteen hours of cycling, we reached the Norfolk coast and I have never been so happy to see a road sign as the one that read Hunstanton. We happily freewheeled down to the seafront for the obligatory bubbly, photos, and triumphant hugs.
As many might expect, a challenge of this type couldn’t have happened without the help of dozens of people who kept the ride on the road in a multitude of ways. The knowledge that there were friends, family and colleagues cheering us on gave us all the encouragement we needed – the reports of help offered before, during and after the ride were inspirational.”
Steven added: “Why we did this was different for each of us, but as designers and visually creative people (Mark, Steven, and Keith), our eyesight is perhaps our most important sense and in our older age, failing eyes brings these issues to the forefront.
It seems that having the Pocklington 'creative energy' to respond to the global challenges of the world, add value, build community and in doing so enjoy every moment of the fun experienced by us all in trying that little bit harder, overcoming everyday obstacles in life and seeing others thrive, lives on in this group of classmates, almost 50 years on! Thank you, Pocklington, for the creative vision, courage, and energy to keep going!”
CBM is a long-established charity based in the UK and Europe, dedicated to helping people with disabilities around the globe. They have a particular skill in taking mobile cataract surgery teams to remote communities. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide and for many people in poorer parts of the world, treatment to restore their vision is out of reach. In 2021, CBM delivered 111,000 cataract surgeries, working with partner hospitals in Africa, Asia and Latin America. For more information click here.
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